Three Stages of Writing

Well, I haven’t come across anything like this, so I thought I would post what I think are the Three Stages of Writing. This post covers most of the writing process from beginning to the end (publication). Not everything is covered, as this is only a blog, but the outline should help you in the process!

Stage One: Creation

This is the initial stage of writing. The act of creating a new piece of work. Sometimes this involves outlining, character sketches, or other prewriting. During this stage it is important not to dwell on all the details and making everything perfect. This is the stage to let your creativity  flow. Take the small seed of idea/character/situation and let it fully blossom into a story, making something from ‘nothing.’

This is the perhaps the most delicate stage of writing. Only show your work to those you trust, and tell them to cheerlead for you. Here you are exploring the world you are creating, the people that inhabit this place, and their stories. It is okay to go off topic to explore. It is okay to make mistakes. Writing is the crucial element here.

Stage Two: Nurture

During this stage, you’ve taken what you’ve already written, and you nurture the prose, letting it mature. Perhaps it is good to think of your work as a plant. Sometimes you need to cut off branches and off-shoots of your beautiful plant so that it can show it’s shape better. You’ll need to add to your story, build it up in places, and sometimes you’ll need to rewrite entire sections to create the flow you are looking for.

I struggle with this process of nurture. I often want to show off the writing before it is truly ready. This is perhaps the hardest stage to complete. You’ll need critique buddies to share your work and to get feedback on improving your work. In general, I know where my manuscript is weak. I ask questions about certain parts of my manuscript to see if they are working on not.

Cutting beloved lines and pages from your manuscript is often the most difficult to do. Here is the solution: cut them out and save them for later. Though they don’t belong in this piece, doesn’t mean they can’t find a home in another story, or, better yet, spawn the creation of a new story. At the end of this stage, you’ll need critique partners and beta readers to ensure that your story is ready. This post explains it very well.

Stage Three: Release

For some, this is perhaps the pinnacle of frustration. Others, it seems unlikely to ever leave stage two. When, exactly, is a story ready for release? I suggest giving to several beta readers, and asking if you think the story is solid enough to be published. If they say it is, try someone who isn’t a ‘writer’ and ask if they would pay to read the story, and their thoughts on it. If they feel it is ready or not ready, they will tell you. There will always be a story or two that you have, completed, that are not ready for publication. These stories need to wait and need distance before you can attempt to nurture them more.

Publishers, editors, and agents are all looking for stories that need very minimal work. It may sound like their job to fix up your story, and of course, they will have a few ideas of their own on how to improve your writing. This mean you should give them your best possible work. An example that may help: would you order pizza again from a parlour that undercooked the pizza, or even sent you the wrong one? Writing is like that. Make sure your writing is a fit for the publishing house, and that your work is ready to be delivered. It is unlikely that the manuscript will undergo no changes from the time you submit until it is published.  But you want to offer the best you have, and be willing to make some changes. Not many in the publishing world like dealing with stubborn authors.

When you have your story published, make sure to thank all those that helped you. And have a party.

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